American Working for American Company in Germany (wife German)- help!

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HI all,


First post, and I do realize there has been plenty of great advice already about topics like these that I’m still reading and re-reading.  Still, I’m seeing all kinds of advice, some of it contradictory, so I’m going to re-post and hope for your (generous!) help/advice.  Also, let me start by saying that I have no intention of avoiding taxes in Germany or getting away with something here – I just really want some advice on my situation:

-      I’m a US citizen.  My wife is a German citizen/Greencard holder.  We have an amazing 2yo daughter who has dual citizenship.

-      After some deliberation, we decided to try moving to Germany.  I speak German very well (study abroad and M.A. degree), so language wasn’t an issue (also saying this to indicate I’m willing to navigate whatever bureaucratic procedures necessary auf Deutsch).

-      I have worked for some time in a supervisory/management position with my US employer.  More recently, the balance of my workload has involved doing online development-type work that doesn’t necessarily require my physical presence in the office.

-      In the face of possible layoffs and with my boss wanting to figure out ways to take salary off the books but still keep myself and others employed, he agreed to let me work at half-time remotely for my next contract (fiscal year 2019-2020 – contract began July 1).  Key in this discussion: he didn’t send me to Germany nor does my employer have a German subsidiary or anything like that where some of the German laws of employer contributions would kick in (in other words, for all the company cares, I could be working 2 blocks away). 

-      My family and I came to Germany at the beginning of June.  I had a short trip I had to take once in Europe.  I then established residency (Aufenthaltstitel) as of July 16 (again, wife and daughter both German so establishment of residency is not an issue). 

-      I am currently seeking employment in Germany (applied to 2 positions) and am hopeful, but until then, I need to figure out how to handle my Sozialabgaben-Sozialversicherung (Krankenversicherung, Pflegeversicherung, Rentenversicherung, Arbeitslosenversicherung, etc. ) and taxation.

-      My wife and daughter are insured through Techniker Krankenkasse, the insurance my wife had before she lived in the US.  I was temporarily insured with them until we realized that my American income would disqualify us for the awesome rate we had (after all, I’m not unemployed). 

-      I was kind of hoping that I could just keep my American job this next year as we wanted to treat this year here as a chance to try Germany out and make sure we want to stay – my American employer has indicated I may return to my position full-time and hopes I will choose to do so. 

-      I have seen things about getting a waiver for Sozialversicherungen if staying in Germany 5 years or less, but I don’t think that excludes me from health insurance (see link below). 

-      I have health insurance from my American employer that “works” in Europe, but that’s in quotation marks because as I read it, it seems only for emergencies, catastrophes.  Someone from Techniker Krankenkasse said that he’d have to verify, but didn’t think the proof of coverage I have would pass muster as meeting the health insurance requirement in Germany.

-      My wife has a “zusage” from a German company and begins her job in October.  I guess I could get insured through her, but perhaps still problematic given my income/employment status in America (not trying to commit fraud here!) and there’s still the tax situation.   

Based on some research, I’m thinking it’s possible to stop paying income tax in the US and pay it here (on German soil – should pay taxes here) but still pay SS in the states, especially since we may return.  Not sure if that intention in the German government’s eyes would be dubious given that I’ve estalibshed residency that will be valid until 2022. 


I think my employer would be fine doing the ss form for me ( since they are actually hoping I do return - i.e., expected return within 5 years).  So, I’d pay German income tax, but forego payment of other Sozialversicherungen (maybe? If I’m understanding right?) with the possible exception of health insurance, which may be a separate question given that, again, my insurance is really for emergencies and not regular care and I MAY be able to get on my wife’s insurance when her job kicks in.    


Sorry to be so long-winded.  My wife’s panicking and telling me I need a German job, like, yesterday.  I’m not against that, but until I have one, I kind of want to keep my job (dad always said don’t quit your job until you have another one – still seems appropriate even in this case).  I also don’t want to run afoul of the law or find out in 3 months that I owe the German government a ton of money or something.  I realize a Steuerberater is probably the very best advice, but any other insights are VERY welcome/appreciated!


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